Our History

Peace First is a national nonprofit organization that exists to create the next generation of peacemakers. We view children as natural problem solvers and creative thinkers, and invest in their ability to see themselves as leaders.

Peace First (formerly Peace Games) began as an annual festival to unite children to play cooperative games and share their visions for peace. Dr. Francelia Butler, a professor of children’s literature, created the festival out of a belief that children had the responsibility to create peace in their world. In 1992, Dr. Butler brought the festival to Harvard University, where it grew from an annual event into an independent non-profit organization under the leadership of current Peace First President and Co-founder, Eric Dawson. In 2000, with Boston as a flagship site, Peace First now operates in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York, with requests for our work from all over the world.

Today, what began as a one-day festival is a now a national movement that Peace First is catalyzing to celebrate young people and their potential to create positive change around them. Our work is grounded in teaching young people the skills of peacemaking; empowering educators and parents to teach and model these skills and values; and creating social messages that raise expectations for young people to demonstrate compassion and empathy.